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Coronavirus: Italy closes nightclubs as authorities blame holidaymakers for new outbreaks

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A man undergoes testing for COVID-19 at Rome's San Giovanni Addolorata hospital, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020.
A man undergoes testing for COVID-19 at Rome's San Giovanni Addolorata hospital, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020.   -   Copyright  Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse via AP
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The Italian government moved to make masks mandatory between 18:00 and 6:00 in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, after recording over 600 new cases on Saturday, and almost 800 others on Sunday, nearly three times more than last week.

The country, which was the first in Europe to institute a lockdown, also closed nightclubs amid the uptick in cases.

Unlike the first coronavirus outbreak, which saw affected mostly Lombardy and other northern areas, the second wave struck much more uniformly across the country - with hundreds of local outbreaks. On Sunday, the region recording most cases was Lazio, in central Italy.

Another difference from the March-April peak of the epidemic is that the average age of those getting infected has dropped dramatically to 39.

Health Minister Roberto Speranza has called on the youngsters to "give a hand in keeping the outbreak under control", during an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica published on Monday. He also ruled out the reopening of schools will be delayed, but warned "no mistake" can be made at this stage

Health authorities have also pointed out the rise in new COVID-19 cases is partially to blame on holidaymakers, as travellers coming from Croatia, Greece, Malta or Spain have now begun to be tested upon arrival in Italy, with 30,000 test-kits dispatched to the Rome airports of Ciampino and Fiumicino on Sunday only.

"Depending on the region, 25% to 40% of the new cases are recorded among people returning from holiday or from foreigners living in Italy", president of the Superior Council of Health Franco Locatelli told Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera. He also stated that 3% to 5% of the new infections are coming from migrants.

The new restrictions come as European countries have seen a resurgence in cases.

The French government announced plans to increase social distancing measures in workplaces, including encouraging people to wear masks in the office and if possible, work from home.

It comes as Paris and Marseille, the largest two cities in the country both were classified as areas with an "active circulation of the virus".

Pressure is mounting on the French government to extend its mask mandate, which currently only applies to closed indoor spaces, although many cities now require them in open markets and crowded areas.

Spain, meanwhile, closed nightclubs as its incidence rate of COVID-19 rose per 100,000 people.

There has been an average of 115 cases per 100,000 people in Spain over the past two weeks, according to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

WHO reports record daily number of global cases

There were more than 294,000 new cases of COVID-19 recorded globally on Saturday, according to World Health Organization figures.

The record number of cases reflects more than 160,000 in the Americas and nearly 30,000 in Europe amid a resurgence in several countries.

Globally, there have been more than 21 million confirmed cases so far of the virus that has killed more than 770,000 people.

The most heavily impacted countries remain the United States, Brazil and India.

New outbreaks in countries praised for virus response

South Korea reported 279 new cases of coronavirus in 24 hours, the country's highest increase in confirmed cases since March 8.

Most of the cases were located in Seoul where officials have been working to stem transmission linked to churches, nursing homes, schools, restaurants and door-to-door salespeople.

New Zealand, also viewed worldwide as a success story in controlling the coronavirus, is fighting a new outbreak in Auckland after going 102 days without a coronavirus case.

The outbreak has risen to 49 cases that appear to be traced to the one cluster.